Cross Country contract may save Derby Bombardier jobs

Delegates at St Pancras station
Image caption More than 200 representatives travelled on a Bombardier-built train

Jobs at Derby-based trainmaker Bombardier could be safeguarded if a bid to upgrade a fleet of UK trains goes ahead, the government has said.

About 1,400 jobs are under threat after the company lost out to Siemens as the government's preferred bidder for the £1.4bn Thameslink contract.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is now looking at upgrading an existing fleet of 57 Cross Country trains.

The Unite union said the firm needed "certainties, not ifs and buts".

Bombardier built the trains originally and is involved in a feasibility study.

Cross Country Trains and Network Rail are also taking part in the study, which aims to find out if the project will provide value for money for the taxpayer.

The work would involve adding an extra carriage and an upgrade to allow the train to run on electric power from overhead lines.

In a report, the DfT said: "We anticipate that, if it proceeds, this work would be delivered largely from within the industry's UK operations and will safeguard jobs at the Bombardier works, including their design team and with the company's supply chain."

The DfT said the project would cut fuel costs, increase capacity and reduce CO2 emissions.

A spokesman for Bombardier said: "We very much welcome that the DfT are looking at the proposal to add electric power cars to the Voyager fleets.

"Bombardier will be pleased to participate in the development of a business case for this project."

'Dreadful decision'

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, said: "Of course new business for Bombardier is to be welcomed but we are running out of track on this.

"Too much is at stake for government to do anything less than to commit to a decent future for rail manufacturing in the UK.

"That still lies in the Thameslink contract - which is more than 10 times bigger than the rumoured order for electric trains - so we will be fighting every step of the way for government to consider again their dreadful decision to send this work out of the UK."

On Wednesday, 200 Bombardier workers, campaigners and politicians travelled to Westminster to put pressure on the government to rethink the Thameslink decision.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said the train contract would not be reviewed or put out to tender again.

The government said in June that the Siemens bid to build 1,200 train carriages represented the best value for money, and that it was following EU procurement rules, which do not allow where companies are based to be taken into account.

Canadian-owned Bombardier employs 3,000 people in Derby.

The Cross Country railway line runs from Penzance to Aberdeen.

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